Rearrangement and redirection
words by Clare Peake
Artspace Residency (October to December 2016)
When I left Broome to undertake the three-month studio residency at Artspace I was so completely consumed by anxiety — I couldn’t really work out who I would miss more, my dog, my partner, my garden, my hermit style life — I really wasn’t sure. I was excited about the opportunity but I was ‘crazy nervous’. It was hard to get on the plane and when I arrived at the studio space the blank empty building was terrifying! I thought about all those times people asked me if I felt isolated living in Broome.
Over the three-month period, I really reflected on this idea of isolation and what that meant to me.
The first thing I did when I arrived was spend a considerable amount of time and money on collecting plants and taking cuttings from the neighbourhood. I rearranged the furniture, hung my hat on the wall and ate my way around Sydney. That was week one.
I did arrive with a few ideas and projects brewing to avoid experiencing the studio anxiety (sitting in my studio with no ideas) that was about to come but when I tried to start these, I realised that they were so closely linked to and developed from my studio environment in Broome that I couldn’t get any momentum going. It wasn’t so much related to access to materials, but more so the pace of the works (construction and process) and how these responded to my studio experience that I found inhibiting.
What I realised through this experience (which I know must sound miserable but anxiety, doubt and failure are all good fodder to make work about) is that so much of my practice is influenced and shaped by my studio environment. This became even more apparent to me in many more ways over the three months. The first month I just spent working through what was a kind of mucky, confusing, disorientated feeling… and I made a lot of crap… it was kind of embarrassing but ok: so I aired my ‘dirty laundry’.
After this initial settling in period, the second month was full of a lot of uninterrupted, invaluable studio time. It was great and I ended up starting a new body of work. This also turned out to be a big failure but as my work often does, it morphed and transformed into something else, which was exciting and fed a whole bunch of new ideas.
I realised that so much of my work is informed by feelings and connections to my immediate environment, whether that be the studio as an experimental lab to test out ideas or as a self-imposed prison where the artist is locked away by the guilt of not working hard enough and not having enough ideas.
Overall though, the residency was a stimulating and challenging experience, full of the type of crazy reflection that comes along with taking a step out of your ordinary, everyday life. I left still feeling anxious but I definitely returned home to Broome with a new sense of confidence and determination.
Clare Peake (born in Geraldton, lives Broome) graduated with a BA(Art) from Curtin University in 2006 and completed postgraduate studies in Anthropology at The University of Western Australia in 2010.
Image Credits (top to bottom):
Clare Peake, A Sorcerer’s Dress. 2016 – ongoing. Studio scraps, test pieces, failures and other project remnants, 120 x 145 cm. Photographer: Amelia Luscombe
Clare Peake, Artspace studio space with work in progress. 2016.
Clare Peake, Several Endings (detail). 2017 – ongoing. Dimensions Variable. Photographer: Amelia Luscombe